Musical Misery: November Album Releases

After a year like 2017, some have turned to music as the last dependable crutch to rely on after hearing about this year’s many tragedies and letdowns. And while there’s been a more amazing music released in 2017 than minutes in a year, this year has also been full of its own musical disappointments.

Most of these musical disappointments were released this past month. As if the reminder of what went down last November wasn’t enough, three artists in particular decided to make this month more grueling. And of course, I’m talking about Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Walk the Moon.

TAYLOR WHITE • THE SPECTATOR
TAYLOR WHITE • THE SPECTATOR

Honestly, I’m a little reluctant to talk about how horrible the new Walk the Moon album is. I genuinely enjoyed Walk the Moon for quite a bit. Their true first release, i want i want!, was such a striking assortment of demos that it paved the way for a more refined polish of the tracks that were later re-released as their self-titled debut record.

However, any sense of Walk the Moon’s garage rock recordings are far, far gone. After taking some time off, the band said that they had to sort through some “personal issues” between members before recording again, and it really shows on What If Nothing.

As if the first song being called “Press Restart” wasn’t inclination enough to know they were having some problems, the jumbled mess of 13 tracks is auto-tuned to oblivion, far beyond anything the love child of Future and T-Pain could ever concoct.

It’s almost as if Walk the Moon took every element from their hit “Shut Up and Dance,” and forcefully implemented it into every song on this record. They terribly recycle a similar riff on every track, and wedge in one-liners like the wrong puzzle piece in a riddle that no one wants to solve.

There’s a lot of these same themes in Maroon 5’s record, Red Pill Blues. The title alone showcases their total disinterest in doing anything ground-breaking, as they claimed to have no recollection of the “red pill” image from “The Matrix” being linked back to alt-right extremists and Nazis.

TAYLOR WHITE • THE SPECTATOR
TAYLOR WHITE • THE SPECTATOR

Maroon 5 is likely a pretty solid representation of what Walk the Moon will become, as Maroon 5 has turned into Adam Levine’s hit-making machine. On Red Pill Blues, they use a bunch of weird xylophone beats that sound like a mix between One Republic and The 1975, to back hooks sung in Levine’s falsetto in a way that will woo the hearts of all people over 40.

Then, they paid millions for features from popular artists to trick people into thinking it would be a merely tolerable listen. They got SZA, they got Future, hell they even got Kendrick Lamar. But even these feature artists couldn’t fix Maroon 5’s elementary song-crafting and general being out-of-touch.

This all leads up to Taylor Swift. Swift has been a long-standing reigning serpentess of pop, whether people want to admit it or not. That’s why it was groundbreaking when she cleared her socials, when she posted all the snake images and when she surprise-dropped her lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” even though she was not the first to come up with any of those ideas.

TAYLOR WHITE • THE SPECTATOR
TAYLOR WHITE • THE SPECTATOR

Naturally, the whole world was paying attention when Reputation dropped, and everyone was there to see Swift’s travesty of a record.

For the first time, Swift seems to have abandoned her classic “relatable” persona. No longer is she the teenage girl next door; on Reputation, Swift has turned into a vengeful serpent lashing out at all those who have wronged her. And since most 25 year olds don’t have billions of eyes on them, their friendships or their relationships, Reputation leaves Swift sounding resentful, bitter and mean.

On top of explicitly, repeatedly stating that she has a Reputation and that no one really knows her, she continuously complains about not being married and/or wanting to be married (see the aptly-titled “End Game”), but again, restates that no one will really know the real her besides maybe her cats (“…Ready for It?”)

As if the content wasn’t enough, Swift enlisted the help of EDM producers to help craft ear-shattering synths and loaded drops on her songs to blow anything you might have expected from her away. Besides, she has a Reputation, but she is definitely not who you think she is anymore.

On all three of these records, these artists seem desperate to produce hits, grasping hold on anything that got them to No. 1 and frantically searching for the next thing to get them there again. This scramble results in a doomed last-ditch effort to remain relevant as they hopelessly watch their success die a swift death.

Anna may be reached at
akaplan@su-spectator.com

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